The Staple Dress

I don't remember exactly how or when I came across The Staple Dress pattern by April Rhodes, but I know I purchased it and printed it out almost immediately after! I'd been thinking about teaching a class on how to make a dress and thought this would be just the right thing for beginners. It's a perfect comfy summer dress with loads of possibilities for variations!

Also, I'm pretty much in love with the hi/low hem trend. If you don't love it, don't worry - a straight hem version is also included. I don't have any dropped hem dresses in my closet yet so I couldn't resist sewing up this version first.

April gave me permission to teach a class on this dress and gave me a heads up that it will be available in print soon, so no more taping pages together for hours while stooped over on the floor! Woohoo! I went ahead and preordered several copies for my class. You can do the same here :)

Keeping in mind that I will be teaching this pattern and it's highly unlikely that my students will have a serger at home, I decided to do all of my seam finishing on the regular sewing machine. The shoulders were french seamed per the instructions and the rest were pinked. I'm eager to see how the pinking holds up in the wash. I want to make sure it's durable enough before teaching that method, but I'm afraid zig-zagging the edges will take up too much class time. So pinking seems like the best option.

I think I can make things a bit easier by applying the bias binding flat (before sewing the shoulder seams and sides together). I still need to test that out though. There will be plenty more of these!

I was tempted to lower the neckline, but I wanted to follow the pattern exactly so I can have an accurate sample to show off. The only alteration I made was to grade the 33" bust down to a 31" to fit my crazy tiny upper half. This worked out really well! I just measured the distance between the sizes and drew a new line that distance inside of the XS. Then I curved it back out to the XS at the waist.

The fabric I used is a cotton lawn by Lisette that I picked up at JoAnn. One problem I anticipate is that our fabric selection here is pretty limited, even though our local JoAnn has begun stocking a lot more apparel fabrics. This dress really needs to be made from something more lightweight than quilting cotton, or it can look a bit stiff and sacklike. Students will need to bring their fabric to class so I'll have to try and explain what to look for in the description when they sign up. I'm still trying to think of a good way to do that - it's a challenge! I really wish I could design something like a college course where we go through everything from learning about fabric, seam finishing, cutting, special techniques...but then I guess that's what sewing books are for. Still, not the same as in person.

This dress was actually my first time shirring. Gasp! I know. I quickly found out that each machine does this a little differently. I sewed a ton of samples on scraps before touching the dress. Most instructions I found said to either leave the tension as-is and sew a long basting stitch or increase the tension all the way up. Both of these resulted in an unevenly gathered seam with absolutely no stretch on my machine (a Husqvarna Opal 670, if you're curious). What did work was decreasing the tension slightly and sewing with a long stitch. It didn't look gathered much at all until I gave it some steam with the iron, then it shrunk up into perfect little gathers like magic! I'm going to have to experiment with shirring some more and ask around for advice. What works best on your machine, and what kind do you have?

Just fair warning - I've been sewing up a storm lately! Mostly samples for classes I'm offering. So I think I'll wait until I'm finished with them and do a big post instead of showing them individually.

Also, my Hawthorn just came in the mail. I know I should leave my sewing room sometime much stuff! So much excitement!!

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